Brake has renewed its call for hands-free kits to be banned following a survey in which 45% of respondents admitted to using a mobile phone when driving.
In a similar survey in 2006, 54% of respondents admitted to using a mobile phone while driving, so the number this time round has reduced by 9%.
Other comparisons between the two surveys indicate that while hand-held use has dropped to 13% from 36% in 2006, the use of hands-free kits has risen to 38% from 22%.
Brake says that the increase in use of hands free kits is probably “linked to the mistaken belief that it is a safe alternative”.
Brake believes that the lack of a total ban has left many drivers unaware that using a hands-free mobile at the wheel is “just as risky as using a hand-held”. The charity says that it is “the distraction of the conversation that causes the danger”.
Brake’s survey also found that 30% of respondents admitted to texting while driving, which rose to 44% among younger respondents aged 18-24 years.
Brake is calling for a total ban on mobile phone use at the wheel.
Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said: "It is shocking that, 10 years after the ban, one in eight drivers continues to flout the law and put lives in danger by using a hand-held mobile at the wheel.
“Just as worrying is the widespread belief that using a hands-free kit is a safe alternative. Don’t kid yourself: it’s not. Using a hands-free phone while driving can end and ruin lives just as surely as using a phone hand-held, and no phone call or text is worth a life.
“The Government needs to act now to stop this risky behaviour. We all need to take responsibility and put our phones safely out of reach and earshot while behind the wheel, and refuse to speak on the phone to others who are driving."